This Pre-election Coverage was a Colossal Failure

  • Alexander Willis

“Donald Trump’s chances of winning are approaching zero.” “Donald Trump is running out of ways to win.” “Hillary Clinton has an 85% chance to win.” These are all things we’ve heard continuously in the last few months from nearly every major news publication. These particular quotes are from The Washington Post, CNN, and New York Times, respectively – with the last being published on election day, November 8. By no means am I suggesting editorial pieces are inherently bad – but when nearly every major news publication is this off-base, it can be hard to regain credibility.

Now just to be clear, this piece is written to be as impartial and unbiased towards either candidate as possible – many people had major concerns about both candidates, and really, I wouldn’t fault anyone for a second for voting either which one – or even deciding to sit this election out. But in the spirit of a true, honest media that accurately reflects the wide array of viewpoints our country holds, this pre-election coverage was a colossal failure.

Having nearly every news station parrot the same predictions and opinions is terrible, and by no means good journalism, but it got worse than that. Nate Silver, well-known statistician who very accurately predicted the last election (down to each state), had the audacity to give Trump a 35.2% chance of winning – strongly conflicting with the New York Times’ 14% and The Huffington Post’s meager 2%, at the time. And for doing so, was ridiculed and mocked – Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post even wrote an entire article about Nate Silver, second guessing his integrity and know-how.

New York Times predictions on election day.

I’m not entirely sure what the answer is at this point, as mainstream media has dug themselves quite a hole. Alternative media such as the Young Turks seems to be gaining traction, and with major news networks’ viewership rapidly declining, that just may be the way of the future. For now though, I think mainstream media needs to work on regaining trust with the public. Coverage needs to be more representative of all Americans, for better, or for worse. This is not about Clinton vs. Trump – this is about holding our media up to a certain standard to be more transparent, honest, and representative – something I think everyone can get behind, red or blue.

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism